In Anglican choral foundations such as cathedrals, the service of Evensong is often sung daily. At St Paul's Cathedral, Choral Evensong is currently sung twice weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays. Choral Evensong is the Service of Evening Prayer set to music: a service which has deep roots in the early worship of the Church. It is mainly derived from the monastic offices of the Middle Ages, but it also contains features which go back to the earliest period of the Christian Church. The service used in this cathedral comes from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, with musical settings from the great tradition of church music, spanning from the Renaissance period to the present day.
At the heart of the service is the regular recitation of the psalms (the hymns of Israel) and Canticles (the Magnificat or Song of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Nunc Dimittis or Song of Simeon), alongside the singing of hymns and the systematic reading of the scriptures from the Old and New Testaments. These readings are those which are laid down in the Church Kalendar. The Old Testament records aspects of the life, thought, institutions and history of the people of God before the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament continues the story of the love of God for his people in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, and includes the writings of the Apostles and others, interpreting Christ for successive generations of Christians down to our time. In the recitation of the Creed, we proclaim and reaffirm the Christian faith, and the Collects aim to 'collect' together in prayer the various themes in the readings appropriate to the day. An organ voluntary sets the mood, and the service begins when the cross is carried in before the choir, leading us forward into worship. At the end of the service, the cross and choir symbolically lead us 'out into the world', at which time an organ voluntary is played.